The Oakland Chamber of Commerce had a great idea in 1909. Instead of every Bay Area resident having to go to Sacramento for the state fair, why not bring the fair to Oakland?
And so something called the Auxiliary State Fair was devised to take place at Oakland's Idora Park (now the Temescal District).
Exhibits from all over the state, which had been installed earlier in September in Sacramento, were brought to Oakland under the auspices of the State Agricultural Society, which coughed up $5,000 for the event. But the principal features of the fair were the industries and manufacturers of Alameda County.
The auxiliary fair turned out to be a very big affair. The governor spoke along with several Bay Area mayors. There were a couple of parades; one featured automobiles. The San Francisco Call reported that the cars, decorated with flags and bunting, numbered in the hundreds.
Lectures "illustrated by colorful slides" about the glories of California agriculture products were given. Horatio Stoll, secretary of the grape growers association, spoke on the state's viticulture industry. The Oakland church federation filed a protest with the license committee of the city of Oakland challenging the free distribution of wine and intoxicating liquor samples at the fair.
A Sacramento delegation arrived at the fair by train. These fairgoers were met by automobile at the depot by a committee of Alameda County boosters, who took them to lunch.
The San Francisco Call reported that one of the most popular exhibits at the fair was put on by Oakland public schools' cooking department: "Samples of the work of the children are given away, and they are much appreciated."
In addition to the entry fee to Idora Park, which was an amusement park, there was a fee to see the exhibits. But it still wasn't very much. One could see all the exhibits and attend the special musical entertainments for 25 cents -- which included a round-trip transportation ticket on the Key Route streetcar system.
The editor of the Sausalito News was impressed by the music, which was to be part of the fair.
"Three great bands will head the festival of music which is to be made part of the daily program of the Auxiliary California State Fair. It has been proven time and time again that the American public demands good music and no exposition or carnival, no matter how pretentious it may be in other ways can be successful unless it provides such entertainment. Realizing the fact the directors of the Idora festivities have arranged for the most elaborate musical programs ever given in the west."
One 65-piece band came from New York to play at the fair. The three bands were located in different sections of the park and gave free concerts every afternoon and night.
A Mardi Gras festival complete with fireworks ended the fair. It had been a great success.
Days Gone By appears on Sundays. Contact Nilda Rego at email@example.com.